Since promoting the FOSSCamp on my blog, several people have written to me asking questions about the event.
I’ve seen the great work that Open Labs has done organizing OSCAL and more recently the Cryptoparty where you had 108 people show up. Many members of the Open Labs community have been welcomed in a lot of other events and programs around the world. There is a lot of good will towards Open Labs, based on the work everybody in your community has done and that is one of the reasons I was happy to promote the FOSSCamp.
I’m worried that if discussions about FOSSCamp continue, it could undermine good will towards Open Labs and could be harmful for individuals from Albania asking for funding in future.
@kristiprogri - could Open Labs produce a brief financial report for the event, just a list of revenues and expenses, showing the funds contributed from different free software organizations and how they were used? As chairwoman, could you also confirm all the money from registration fees was put through the Open Labs bank account or managed in a manner approved by the board?
@rskikuli - you wrote that a registration fee was needed because of people canceling at the last minute. I never received any reply to my earlier questions about how the fee would be used and this makes people more suspicious looking at this thread on the Open Labs forum. Why couldn’t you simply ask people to pay some of the accommodation in advance if you were concerned about last minute cancelations?
People have also noticed that the FOSSCamp is heavily embedded into the Open Labs web site, with a dedicated web page under openlabs.cc, a dedicated page on the wiki and the banner on the front of the Open Labs web site. The FOSSCamp.cc web site has the Open Labs logo but it has an Ura Design email address on it. This also raised suspicions with some people, could somebody clarify the relationship between Open Labs, Ura Design and FOSSCamp?
Some other contributors in the region have expressed concern that because of the ferry cost and the registration fee, the event was not affordable and the only people who attended were the people who could get travel sponsorship. Given the huge communities in Albania and also Kosovo, it seems disappointing that more of those people could not attend the event. Did you look at other locations where more people could afford the travel or were there other people or groups who were expected to meet you in Syros but changed their mind and did not come?
One general comment about the event: for people in full time employment to attend events like this, especially if they have to book flights from northern Europe, they need a lot more notice beforehand, maybe 3 to 4 months. In this case, the event was only announced 2 months in advance and that may have reduced the number of people able to take a week off work.
I realize people did a lot of good work at the FOSSCamp and other Open Labs events and I don’t want these questions to be demoralizing for all of you. I feel it is a really good idea to give the community some feedback about these concerns so that questions about the FOSSCamp won’t linger in future. Dealing with this openly will also help show the wider community how the organization is operating well. Even if there were mistakes, any objective de-briefing and analysis of these questions can hopefully show that the mistakes were understood and any future FOSSCamp will be bigger and even more successful.